SINGAPORE - Despite "a roller-coaster year of emotional highs and lows", Hougang United (HGFC) chairman Bill Ng has vowed not to turn his back on his club.
The 58-year-old broke his silence on New Year's Day on Monday (Jan 1) when he continued his annual practice of delivering his chairman's message - this time a 1,394-word post - on the club's website.
"For my part, my committee and I remain fully committed in making HGFC a beacon of how a professional football club can continually thrive, even in the midst of uncertainties and changes," wrote the businessman.
This was the first time Ng has made any public statements since he and his wife Bonnie Wong, former Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin and former FAS general secretary Winston Lee were arrested last April as part of a probe into suspected misuse of funds at Tiong Bahru Football Club.
Ng is the chairman of Tiong Bahru.
The quartet have been released on bail and investigations are ongoing.
Ng wrote: "It has been a difficult year, both for the club and myself. In April 2017, I led a team of very dedicated men and women to offer ourselves and our collective vision for Singapore Football, in our first ever FAS Council open election.
"We were genuinely very committed to bringing this sweeping change. Personally, I had also put in a lot of my resources in this election as I really wanted change to take place.
"Nevertheless, although the majority of affiliates did not choose us, we humbly respect their decision."
He also mentioned that there were "misunderstandings" about Singapore football which he hoped can be undone and clarified, although he declined further comment about this when contacted by ST on Tuesday.
While the Cheetahs finished sixth in the nine-team S-League last season, "way below the target we set", Ng felt there were still positives in terms of an image makeover, and improvements to their infrastructural and technical support for the senior squad and Prime League team that finished second for the first time.
He wrote: "I see the emergence of a new and young breed of players with admirable personal values and most importantly, their hunger to personally develop, compete and play, which augers very well for Singapore football.
"Young guns like Lionel Tan, Justin Hui and Gerald Ting were developed well and given much exposure. Other players like Gareth Low, Prakash Raj and Amer Hakeem have also been signed up to be part of the 2018 Young Lions squad.
"We can expect to see them establish themselves in the 2018 season S-League, especially with the new U23 rules being introduced.
"I foresee that come 2018, the focus will be on developmental football. If HGFC can continue to set the pace in nurturing and developing aspiring players for our national squad, just like we did in previous years, then 2018 will be a hopeful season for us in unveiling new talents."
He also took the opportunity to remember former team manager Bruce Tan, former coach Amin Nasir and former groundsman Lambri Moondari who died in the last 14 months.